IF “My Man Godfrey” started the screw-ball rolling, “Merrily We Live” looks like the final windup of the series. It follows the general outline of “My Man Godfrey”—if anything that looks as though it might have been whipped up with an egg-beater, can be said to have an outline.
The household here consists of a scatterbrained matron (Billie Burke), her problem family (Constance Bennett, Bonita Granville, Tom Brown), and her exasperated and bibulous husband (Clarence Kolb). When an unshaven tramp comes in asking for permission to use the telephone. Mrs. Kilbourne, whose hobby is reforming down-and-outs, invites him to become the family chauffeur. When, clean-shaved and handsome, he turns out to be Brian Aherne, Daughter Constance Bennett takes to reading novels upside down. He soon becomes the centre of a family riot, and presently it’s every man for himself and the devil take the plot. Typical complication: Butler Alan Mowbray trying simultaneously to provide a match, fend off two Great Danes, and extricate his hand from a vase. “Merrily We Live” is completely hay-wired for comedy and should make everybody happy, if slightly unhinged, for an hour and a half.
T)ENITENTIARY” is for those people T who still enjoy doing time in the movie^ Prison films by this time are so routine
that most of us could go through them with our eyes shut. In this one the hero is sent down for manslaughter, after “crocking” a drunk in defense of a lady’s honor. Born unlucky, he gets into more trouble inside the walls, as innocent witness of a murder. After that it takes the combined efforts of the warden (Walter Connolly), the warden’s pretty daughter (Jean Parker), his fellow convicts and the film’s author, to get him out.
Walter Connolly, as usual, gives a good performance. The rest just worry through their parts. The final impression left by “Penitentiary” is that life in prison isn’t
much fun, and pictures about life in prison aren’t much fun either.
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
T\ON’T be misled by the title of Shirley
Temple’s latest film. Shirley isn't a girl who can be kept down on the farm. The authors of the film version of the Kate Douglas Wiggin classic have pretty well scrapped the original, and Shirley is soon whisked off to radioland, where she is . naturally a good deal more at home than in a simple barnyard setting. Kate Douglas Wiggin would certainly be impressed, and possibly a little disturbed, at the precocious talents of her heroine and the impression she makes on grown-up city men.
Shirley is stretching up now—she’s lost that dimpled look around the knees. But she still has her curls and her winning ways, and she is as busy as ever singing, dancing, and straightening out grownup difficulties. As usual too, she is surrounded by a fine cast—Helen Westley, Randolph Scott, Bill Robinson, Jack Haley, Gloria Stuart. Old-fashioned admirers of Kate Douglas Wiggin will doubtless be enraged by Shirley’s latest film. But Shirley’s admirers won’t have anything to complain about.
TEZEBEL” is an excitingly handled, brilJ liantly acted, and wonderfully handsome picture. Its weaknèss is a rather straggling plot which depends for its climax on the complete and not quite credible reformation of its heroine (Bette Davis).
Julie is a Southern belle, proud, highspirited and beautiful. She is also spoiled, vixenish and poison-mean. To spite her fiancé (Henry Fonda), Julie smashes tradition by wearing a red gown to a planters’ ball. This creates a scandal, and Pres (Flenry Fonda) starts for the North burning with shame and the hearty smack Julie left on his cheek at parting. But when Pres returns and is struck down by the fever plague that is sweeping New Orleans, Julie rushes to his rescue, and is last seen riding off with him to the pest colony on Lazarette Island.
William Wyler’s direction is so effective
and adroitly stressed that a modern audience is almost as convinced of the impropriety of Julie’s red gown as were her shocked fellow citizens. And Bette Davis’ extraordinary intensity almost makes one believe in Julie’s Jezebel-Nurse Cavell personality. Altogether “Jezebel” gets a good deal better handling than the actual
story deserves. It’s a good picture. With a better narrative, it would have been a very fine one.
A Yank at Oxford
' I 'IIIS picture has a sure-fire story—the one about the brash young man who is cruelly misunderstood by his standoffish colleagues and who finally earns their respect and admiration and the love of a beautiful girl. Robert Taylor is the young man, the entire undergraduate body of Oxford is the opposition, Maureen O’Sullivan is the girl who loves him through all his misadventures.
Whether movie audiences will do the same is another question. Actor Taylor hasn’t lost any of his looks, but he has sacrificed most of his charm. lie is shown here as a loud-mouthed braggart who clowns and shows off before his trackand boating-team mates, talks about himself endlessly, and kicks dignified people in the seats of their pants. However, Oxford is treated with respect, even if Mr. Taylor isn’t. Its customs, ceremonials, sports, bumping-races, chimes and hoary towers are faithfully depicted. They are all worked skilfully into the script as well, and the direction never lags. “A Yank at Oxford” presents an English^vievv of Americans, and an American view of Englishmen, and neither perhaps is strictly accurate. You may disagree with it, but you will find it interesting to watch.
Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife
WHEN Michael, a handsome American millionaire (Gary Cooper), meets pretty French Nicole (Claudette Colbert), lie decides to marry her at sight. Nicole is soon persuaded. But when she discovers that Michael has had the same impulse on seven other occasions, she decides to teach him a lesson. At the end of her course of treatment Nicole is flitting gaily about Paris in an elaborate wardrobe provided by Michael, Michael is in a sanitarium in a strait jacket provided by the management.
“Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife” is as airy as
a soap-bubble, though not quite so innocent. Ernst Lubitsch directed it, but the famous Lubitsch touch isn’t so noticeable as the equally famous Cooper and Colbert touches. Only Gary Cooper and Claudette Colbert could have given it its peculiar sparkle, romance and deftly timed comedy. For adults.
The Sign Post
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.—Walt Disney’s enchanting full-length film. Not to be missed by anybody.
Dig Hroadeast of 1!>.’?8.—A big musical whose principal setting is a fancy ocean liner, and whose chief ornament is W. C. Fields. Dorothy Lamour, Kirsten Flagstad and other talented people are also on the passenger list.
Sally, Irene and Mary.—A Darryl Zanuck musicai, with Alice Faye, Joan Davis and Marjorie Weaver. Fair, but not quite up to the Darryl Zanuck standard,
Mad About Music.—Deanna Durbin’s latest. Not quite so good as ’’100 Men and a Girl,” but not to be missed. With Herbert Marshall, Gail Patrick. A family film.
A Slight Case of Murder.—How ex-gangster, Edward G. Robinson, discovers three corpses hanging in his clothes closet, and what he docs about them. Slightly grim, but very
Bringing Up Baby.—Katharine Hepburn in a mixup with a zoologist (Cary Grant', a terrier (Astat, two leopards, and a Brontosaurus. Miss Hepburn comes through handsomely Very daffy comedy, but amusing.
Everybody Sing.—Fanny Brice gives her “Baby Snooks” specialty and sings “Dainty Quainty Me.” Judy Garland. Billie Burke and a number of other people are involved, but Fanny is what makes the picture worth going to see. For the family.
Goldwyn Follies.—Big and splendid technicolor. With Adolphe Menjou, Andrea Leeds, the American Ballet, Charlie McCarthy. The musical show at its height.
The Baroness and the Butler.—Complications of politics and love. With William Powell and Annabella. Fair entertainment.
Gold Is Where You Find It.—California epic, richly technicolored. With George Brent, Olivia de Havilland. A family picture.
I’ll Take Romance.—More problems of a prima donna. With Grace Moore and Melvyn Douglas. Miss Moore's admirers won't be disappointed.
The Awful Truth.—Divorce and its complications. One of the season’s funniest comedies. With Irene Dunne, Cary Grant. Recommended.
Mannequin.—Joan Crawford in another ragsto-riches romance. With Spencer Tracy. Typical Crawford fare.
Hurricane.—Jon Hall, Dorothy Lamour, and a spell of the worst weather ever screened. The season’s biggest screen spectacle.
Romance in the Dark.—Gladys Swarthout, John Boles and John Barrymore in a mixuo of love, jealousy and operatic temperament. Some good music and a fair story.
Every Day’s a Holiday.—Mae West in another survey of New York in the nineties. West fans will enjoy it.
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